Catholics Against Bigotry & Scapegoating
Recently the Gay Liberation Network had the honor of hosting on our cable TV program Ms. Liz Deligio, a representative of the 8th Day Center for Justice. 8th Day has taken the courageous step of issuing a response to the recent Vatican teaching on homosexuality and church, challenging the church hierarchy for condemning Lesbians and Gays and the Vatican's attempt to scapegoat gays for the pedophile priest crisis and scandal in the church.
We are proud to reprint their statement here:
8TH DAY CENTER FOR JUSTICE
A Response to the Instruction from the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education
The Staff of the 8th Day Center for Justice -- a center impelled by the belief that all creation is sacred and inter-related and imbued with the principles of nonviolence, mutuality and cooperation -- strongly objects to the Congregation for Catholic Education's Instruction concerning the ordination of "gay" priests. As a center rooted in a thirty-year history of challenging systems of oppression, we oppose this instruction because of its discriminatory nature and false claims.
The instruction, in brief summary, draws a connection between emotional immaturity and homosexuality. The instruction states that a person who is homosexual is "objectively disordered" and therefore incapable of being able to provide appropriate pastoral care. In light of this, then, the Church must deny homosexual men entry into ordination as a way to protect and preserve the Church community. It notes in particular that this instruction is made "more urgent by the present situation. "We believe the present situation refers to the scandal of the sexual abuse of children that has unfolded in the Catholic Church.
The instruction provides no insight into how the Congregation for Catholic Education came to understand homosexuality as a sign of emotional immaturity. The document only references natural law, the Church's Tradition, and Scripture, according to Magisterium's narrow interpretation. It also provides no substantiation of a link between homosexual orientation and a propensity for sexually abusing children. In fact, the disciplines of biology, psychology, and anthropology do not support the claim that homosexuality is disordered or leads to sexual abuse of children.
This instruction flows from a worldview that names heterosexuality as normative, and it broadens the centuries old discriminatory practice barring women from ordination. Our sisters and brothers who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender live each day in a society and culture that judges their sexuality, rejects their family units and denies them access to basic civil liberties. This instruction furthers this climate of prejudice and oppression and it attempts to justify discrimination with moral language.
We reject an understanding of Tradition, Scripture and Church that harms or discriminates against any individual person or group. We reject a worldview wherein heterosexuality is normative and homosexuality is "objectively disordered" and therefore excluded from the rich diversity of human experience and love. We reject the false connection between sexual orientation and sexual abuse. And we reject the use of our homosexual brothers as scapegoats in the sexual abuse crisis. Further, we reject an understanding of community which permits a powerful elite to name "norms" that are divisive and exclusionary.
We believe that "placing the onus on those who love to defend their love, is an odd and unjust demand in a religious tradition that teaches love as its highest value," as Mary Hunt says. We believe that all members of the Church should have equal access to Sacraments regardless of gender or sexual orientation. We believe, as a staff that is rooted in Christian faith principles especially those of inclusivity and nonviolence, that we are called to stand in solidarity with those who are oppressed and marginalized - in this case our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender sisters and brothers. Finally, as stated in the "Catechism of the Catholic Church," in regard to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender individuals we believe that "they must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided." (Par. 2358)
WE CALL for a community where "all are welcomed, where the gifts of all are recognized and received, and where the rights of all are defended and promoted," as said Rev. Paul Sherry, former head of the United Church of Christ.
WE CALL for a worldview that embraces the complexity of the human person and celebrates that diversity rather than creating false and prejudiced norms.
WE CALL for an examination of heterosexism as a force in our culture that builds and sustains systems of discrimination against persons of different sexual orientations.
WE CALL for an understanding of Tradition, Scripture, Church and a cosmology that honors and enacts a call to justice where we challenge oppression, instead of enacting oppression against anyone, especially our own members.
WE CALL for true accountability in regard to the sex abuse scandal. We call the institutional Church to address the power disparities between leaders and lay people in the Church and acknowledge the need for a new understanding of relationships that are rooted in ideals of mutuality and equality.
1. Share this statement with the leadership of your local faith community (Bishop, pastor, etc.) and other concerned persons.
2. Send it to your local media and encourage them to do a piece on the statement. They may contact 8th Day Center for comments at 312-641-5151.
3. Reflect upon this statement as it applies to your own life and relationships
"Eradicating the Sin of Heterosexism" by Mary E. Hunt August 2005 - Chapter of a forthcoming book
"Now, No Condemnation-A Pastoral Letter to the United Church of Christ" by Rev. Paul H. Sherry, Former President of the United Church of Christ (November 1998)
"Catechism of the Catholic Church", Ligouri Publications, 1994 Pg. 566
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8th Day Center for Justice
205 W Monroe St Ste 2W
Chicago IL 60606-5062
Phone: (312) 641-5151
FAX: (312) 641-1250